David Michael Slater grew up across the street from Tree of Life synagogue. Like so many Pittsburghers, he spent this weekend trying to grapple with the knowledge that a violent attack took place at the heart of the neighborhood he called home.

Slater is a gifted writer. But long before he was a published author, he was a student at Taylor Allderdice High School, and before that he was a classmate of my husband Ted Anthony’s at Falk School at the University of Pittsburgh. And so this weekend, as The Associated Press covered this horrible shooting, my husband, an editor there, realized that his childhood friend might have something important to add.

The essay Slater wrote for the AP is powerful and very much worth your time, so we wanted to share it with you.

“Until today,” he wrote, “it seemed inconceivable to me that any American could, at this point, be shocked by a mass murder, even one in their backyard. Those expressing such shock have struck me as willfully self-delusional. Jewish Americans, in particular, are taught pretty much from day one that the veneer of ‘civilization’ is perilously thin and that ‘It’ could happen again. Here. In our lifetimes. And so we must be ever vigilant and wary — perpetually tensed.

I was weaned on such worries. And despite how paranoid they seemed on the corner of Shady and Wilkins, I thought I had internalized them.

But I wasn’t ready for the blow.”

Read the full essay here.